Dawn, Ghost Lights and Angel Tears


My favorite image of my morning photo shoot. Spirits shine through the Wall and its angels' tears.

My favorite image of my morning photo shoot. Spirits shine through the Wall and its angels’ tears.

I hope you come down to Mount Mercy University’s main campus to see the Moving Wall, a half-size replica of the National Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial that will be open to the public until noon Monday, Sept. 21.

And if you want my advice, dawn would be a great time to see it.

A couple cast shadows on the wall as they walk along it this morning. He was a Vietnam veteran who was finding some buddies whose names are there.

A couple cast shadows on the wall as they walk along it this morning. He was a Vietnam veteran who was finding some buddies whose names are there.

My wife and I had volunteered to staff the wall from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. Saturday. Our ulterior motive that it would provide an excuse to go to a restaurant for breakfast, but we also just wanted to help with the Wall.

Anyway, there had been a lot of rain Friday afternoon into the early morning hours Saturday, and the lights that illuminate the wall had shorted out—so the drama of the morning was for the wall organizers and the facilities department to get the lights back on. Fortunately, it did not take long. Even before the lights were restored, the sky was just starting to turn from black to dark blue—that pretty early morning color of a fine fall day.

Dawn at the wall.

Dawn at the wall.

When the sun finally cleared the horizon, only the east end of the wall was directly illuminated, which meant the wall went from its black reflective color into a beautiful and eerie gold.

We had about eight people visit the wall in the early hours, so I had lots of time to try some photography—and the early morning light was great.

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Blue light of pre-dawn gives way to golden sunlight of morning.

As I was shooting, a veteran approached. I caught his ghostly reflection in the black surface of the monument. He walked right up to me, almost as if to challenge me, and said, his voice shaking, asked: “Will they ever learn?”

He came up to be and asked, "Will they ever learn?" The Sisters of Mercy promote peace, and it seems this man knows exactly why.

He came up to me and asked, “Will they ever learn?” The Sisters of Mercy promote peace, and it seems this man knows exactly why.

It seemed the best and most important question I’ve heard at the Wall. I can’t say I know any sort of answer, but we did have a good conversation after that.

Rain had speckled the wall with water, and the drops and reflected, distorted lights looked like spirits and angels’ tears. I like that photo the most, so I started with it on this post. Julie, one of the faculty members who was working with my wife and me during the morning shift, said she liked how the roses some people left at the wall looked with the rainwater on them. So, Julie, thanks for the tip—a lot of my pictures are of a rose.

rose

Rain on a rose. Or angels’ tears.

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And, of course, I could not resist the flags in the dawn’s early light.

flags flag

I hope you enjoy these images. More of my wall visit photos are here and here and here. But don’t just look at the pretty pictures. If you can, come on down, be embraced by the sobering, sacred place created in front of Warde Hall by the arms of the wall. Of course, when you can, go to Washington D.C. and see the original—but it would be a shame to miss the Moving Wall while it’s here in Cedar Rapids.

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